Qatar Airways expects to take delivery of its first Airbus A321neo jets at the end of 2022 as the Gulf carrier continues to modernise its fleet.
CEO Akbar Al Baker had previously confirmed to Executive Traveller that while the A321neo was initially due in 2021 "we have pushed that back, the first A321 will be delivered to us in 2022."
Now seatmaker Recaro has pegged that delivery timeframe to the tail end of next year, announcing overnight that its new CL3810 economy class seat will be installed on Qatar's A321neos "starting at the end of 2022."
The advanced yet lightweight seat offers a wider backrest for increased comfort and privacy, as well as a six-way headrest with adjustable neck support.
While Qatar's A321neo business class has yet to break cover, Al Baker has told Executive Traveller to expect something akin to a single-aisle Qsuite, although without the sliding door.
"Every seat will have aisle access" and convert into a fully lie-lat bed, Al Baker says, although "they will not have doors. But they will have something very similar, so you will have some privacy."
Al Baker has previously indicated the seat itself will use an existing design from an established manufacturer rather than a fully bespoke effort – although travellers should still expect to see a heavily customised seat with high-quality fittings and finish plus plenty of small yet thoughtful touches when it comes to personal space, comfort and convenience.
The end result will be a step-change from the dated 2-2 business class of the Gulf carrier's workhorse Airbus A320 fleet, which the A321neo series will replace.
Qatar Airways has 40 Airbus A321neo jets on order, alongside ten of the extended-range A321neo LR models.
The factory-fresh A321neos are intended as a like-for-like replacement for the ageing A320neos, with the LR models also earmarked for destinations with insufficient demand for a larger twin-aisle jets – a scenario that's likely to be increasingly common in the post-pandemic world where the coronavirus has sapped demand for air travel.
Next on Qatar's business class playbook will be the first wave of Boeing 777-9s, for which Al Baker says "we are developing new business class seats" with the possibility of a “very exclusive first class cabin” for some later Boeing 777X deliveries, which would ply a handful of premium-heavy European routes favoured by well-heeled Qatari travellers.
“We have huge demand here in Qatar to two or three European destinations” such as London and Paris, Al Baker explains, “so we may introduce a very small first class cabin for our local passengers who want a very exclusive first class product.”